Do you have a funeral plan? Not writing down your wishes can leave your loved ones out of pocket


Do you have a plan for your funeral? Most of us know if we want to be buried or cremated, and possibly what songs we would like played, but other than that, many feel we won’t be there, so there’s no need to fuss. .

While you may think you’re doing your loved ones a favor by not being prescriptive about what you want when you’re gone, funerals often cost more and cause more heartbreak when there’s no clear plan.

Spending just 20 minutes writing a funeral plan can prevent stress and extra costs

That was the experience of Rebecca Peach, CEO and founder of Legacy of Lives, a funeral planning tool that helps you create a funeral plan to save and share with loved ones, compare prices, and book funerals.

When her aunt died without a clear plan for a funeral, the matter became contentious, adding to the stress when the family was already in mourning.

“If my aunt had seen what was going on, the heated discussions about a cremation or burial, which is a very big difference financially, and all the documents they were trying to find, it would have been so sad for her to to see.

“That could have been avoided if I had sat down and made a 20-minute plan to write down her wishes,” Peach told This is Money.

Research shows that 83 percent of grieving families request only one quote for a funeral, leaving them paying more than they need to.

This is important because the cost of a standard funeral can vary up to 130 percent based on the location and type of funeral director, and the cost of a cremation can be as high as 143 percent.

And the amounts involved in the event are significant. The average cost of a basic funeral in the UK is £3,953.

The total cost of death, including third-party costs, is estimated to be around £9,200, according to SunLife, up 3.8 percent in a year.

Peach says she sees more and more people taking out credit to pay for funeral expenses, a problem exacerbated by the lack of financial education around funerals.

More than 40 percent of people don’t set aside enough money to pay for their own funeral expenses, says SunLife. In addition, a fifth of families in 2022 experienced notable financial distress when paying for a funeral, needing to find an average of £1,870 to cover the total cost.

And of this group, 23 percent borrowed from a friend or relative, 15 percent sold assets, and 14 percent borrowed money from a lender.

In 2021, the Competition and Market Authority recognized the problem and instructed funeral directors and crematoriums to make prices clearer to customers.

The order requires providers to display a standardized price list on their property and on their website, including the top price for a funeral, the price of individual items that make up the funeral, and the price of certain additional products and services.

In addition, Peach says that as homeownership declines, it will become increasingly difficult for people to afford the cost of a funeral without guaranteed money from property sales.

Why you need to prepare a funeral plan

While Peach welcomes the CMA’s order, she says there’s still a problem because people don’t have a yardstick for average prices or a way to compare them.

And planning can help avoid practical problems when putting together a funeral. You can often only compare prices at that point by calling around and once a body has been taken to a funeral home, people understandably don’t want it released to go elsewhere.

“We don’t really like the terms of shopping around and all that stuff because it’s not a race to the bottom on price at all. It’s about helping you find the right, most appropriate partner, of which price is an element,” said Legacy of Lives COO, Venetia Leigh.

“The reason we started Legacy of Lives is because consumers need support and comparison from the funeral industry as a whole. All of the company’s co-founders have gone through a similar problem, where they were simply left alone to navigate the unknown of funeral planning,” added Peach.

With the online tool Legacy of Lives you can plan your funeral and compare costs and providers

With the online tool Legacy of Lives you can plan your funeral and compare costs and providers

For example, she says people think you need an expensive hearse to transport a coffin, but there are several options available.

‘My mother, she did it [made a plan]. She changes her funeral song about once a month and updates her plan on Legacy of Lives. It’s just better to take it down.

Currently, the company is working with 30 hospices across the country, in partnership with Hospice UK and Marie Curie, and hopes to form a partnership with the NHS.

Both Peach and her co-founder Venetia Leigh feel there has been a change in the way we approach and discuss grief and death. Podcasts on the topic, such as “Griefcast,” have become increasingly popular in recent years.

“I don’t think Legacy of Lives could have existed five years ago, ten years ago,” says Leigh. “I think now is the right time because everyone is so used to social media. as we always say you would never spend £5000 on anything or anything without at least checking TripAdvisor or something.

‘[A funeral] is the one thing you spend huge amounts of money on that you don’t control. The social media generation, the younger people planning it, because they’re much more comfortable talking about themselves and having it online,” says Leigh.

Venetia Leigh (left) and Rebecca Peach (right) founded Legacy of Lives as a result of their personal experiences

Venetia Leigh (left) and Rebecca Peach (right) founded Legacy of Lives as a result of their personal experiences

And institutions like hospitals and hospices that deal with death on a regular basis are becoming better equipped to give people a say in how they want to be remembered.

“They’re much more about giving the patients a voice, not necessarily being very religious or talking about lights at the end of the tunnel,” she says.

“I think this is what we want, to be able to save people money, give them the best partner and give the person who has passed away the best goodbye.”

What can you do to arrange your funeral?

Sit down and think about what you want for your funeral, how you want to be remembered, and a realistic budget.

Some elements to consider include where you want the funeral to take place, who you want to nominate or give speeches, and whether you want guests to bring flowers or donate to charity instead.

You can write your wishes down in a document called an advanced care plan, or include them in your will – although it’s worth noting that including instructions in your will doesn’t make them binding.

It’s also worth considering payment options, such as prepaying with a prepaid plan or insurance. And if you have life insurance, check whether the costs of a funeral are included in the arrangement.

The government also offers a funeral allowance for people on certain benefits to help cover the cost of elements, including funeral or cremation costs.

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